MARQUETTE — The push for high–school students to achieve a four–year degree is being replaced with skills careers all across the state of Michigan, including Marquette.
Michigan used to have a large portion of the population seeking four–year degrees or some form of higher–education. Recent studies from the State of Michigan reported an increase in trade jobs since 2013.
“Well, the State of Michigan has recognized a talent gap and that talent gap is the gap between employers looking for skilled workers and there just not being enough skilled workers out there because they haven’t had the proper training or met the proper requirements to be certified,” said CTE Consultant, Jim Yates.
The shift in jobs may be attributed to the education students receive starting in junior high. In Michigan, students will receive an educational development plan which helps tailor their courses to their specific credit needs.
“The CTE is not really a new program but it’s one that’s not been developed very well, but now Michigan is putting a lot more emphasis on it because what it does is it allows students to get a lot of their academic curriculum requirements done through hands on training, ” explained Yates.
By the time they reach late high school they are given the opportunity to substitute standard classes in school for trade or even college credit courses. In Marquette, MARESA is making it possible for students to take career and technical education courses to cover their credits and encourage career exploration.
“Anything that is really hands–on that can lead to a career, and just like type of courses or it’s just like taking college courses a lot of them will reciprocate over to another degree or transfer over. You’re still gaining valuable skills and credits along the way if you’re taking some college courses while in high school. Of course, as your interests change your goals might change still you’ll have those credits that usually transfer over only if you stay within the same occupational field. They’re still going to a value of some sort.”
Courses such as this allow students to gain credit hours for school and certifications while working with local employers in their chosen career field based on their interests.
Not everyone is looking at college as post–high school education, and programs across the state are allowing every student the chance for a free opportunity to follow their own path.
“The CTE program looks to address that and try to close that [talent] gap, and the real way we can change that is by closing that awareness gap.”